Tag Archives: Christmas

Ghostly Christmas Romance–Somewhere the Bells Ring

My fascination with ghosts might be the reason they appear in many of my stories. They don’t always take the same form, though. Some are sensed and seen only in the character’s mind.  Or in dreams. One’s a violent poltergeist.  Others are old loves…

In Somewhere the Bells Ring, the ghost seems perfectly real. When Bailey is with him, she’s transported from 1968 back to 1918 and the end of WWI in the same old house.

This is my favorite sort of ghost.  Some of the most intriguing stories I’ve come across have ghosts who seem solid, not vaporous, and give the person seeing them a glimpse of the past as though through a window in time.  And who’s to say that isn’t what’s happening?  Maybe a ripple opens up and allows a glimpse of what once was and those who lived in that time and place?

Can they see us in turn?  Maybe so.  And can there be communion with these corporeal spirits from the past?  Possibly.  That’s the premise for this story.

“When I see ghosts they look perfectly real and solid — like a living human being. They are not misty; I can’t see through them; they don’t wear sheets or bloody mummy bandages. They don’t have their heads tucked under their arms. They just look like ordinary people, in living color, and sometimes it is hard to tell who is a ghost.” ~Chris Woodyard

“I have thought that I have seen ghosts on many occasions.” Taylor Caldwell

“With true love as it is with ghosts; everyone talks about it, but few have seen it.”   ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“I fell in love with Ms. Trissel’s characters and look forward to the next delightful story ready with Kleenex box in hand. A must read for every romance fan.”~ Robin at Romancing the Book Reviews for Somewhere the Bells Ring

Somewhere the Bells Ring is a haunting story of timeless love, and of course, it’s true.

Blurb: Caught with pot in her dorm room, Bailey Randolph is exiled to a relative’s ancestral home in Virginia to straighten herself out. Banishment to Maple Hill is dismal, until a ghost appears requesting her help. Bailey is frightened but intrigued. Then her girlhood crush, Eric Burke, arrives and suddenly Maple Hill isn’t so bad.

To Eric, wounded in Vietnam, his military career shattered, this homecoming feels no less like exile. But when he finds Bailey at Maple Hill, her fairy-like beauty gives him reason to hope–until she tells him about the ghost haunting the house. Then he wonders if her one experiment with pot has made her crazy.

As Bailey and Eric draw closer, he agrees to help her find a long-forgotten Christmas gift the ghost wants. But will the magic of Christmas be enough to make Eric believe–in Bailey and the ghost–before the Christmas bells ring?

*An old photograph of the Virginia family home place–the house Somewhere the Bells Ring is based on.

***Somewhere the Bells Ring is available in various eBook formats from The Wild Rose PressAmazon KindleAll Romance Ebooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook and other online booksellers.

Sweet Pea & Friends The SheepOver–One of the Biggest Book Sales of the Year!

I’m thrilled to announce my brother, John Churchman, and his wife Jennifer’s, children’s book, Sweet Pea & Friends The SheepOver, has sold to Little Brown and Company in a multi-book deal for an astounding price. The write-up is in Publisher’s Weekly.

Sweet_Pea_cover_rev_largeThe catch your breath response to this heartwarming tale lies in ‘Farmer John’s’ enchanting illustrations, coupled with the country lifestyle he and his family embrace in rural Vermont. Sweet Pea, the star of the show with her irresistible smile, was an injured lamb this past winter when she gained the sympathetic attention of John’s Facebook friends. Folk of all ages eagerly followed her recovery, cheering her on, and relishing John’s wonderful photographs. Word spread and followers urged him to create a children’s book. That’s how this unbelievable journey began. Less than a year ago! Sweet Pea and friends have their own FB page too, which I invite you to savor.

Initially, John and co-author Jen, undertook a Kickstarter campaign to publish the book. After meeting their goal in the first 24 hours, they continually expanded it to greater heights. But that’s nothing in comparison to where they’ve launched now, among the stars.

In A Storybook Life, a film segment on the television show Stuck in Vermont, Farmer John, along with Sweet Pea and friends, were interviewed last February. This charming glimpse into their earthy world is well worth a peek.

Sweet Pea smiling with her hay hair

(Sweet Pea with her ‘hay hair’ look and that contagious smile)

After John took Sweet Pea & Friends The SheepOver to a local bookstore, The Flying Pig, the co-owner, Elizabeth Bluemie, was so impressed she wrote up a fabulous piece for Publisher’s WeeklyWhen a Self-Published Book Is Done Right. Bluemie’s enthusiasm, coupled with John’s utterly unique illustrations, caught the eye of agents. Overnight, or sooner, they were knocking on his door. He and Jen chose Brenda Bowen/Greenburger Associates, who didn’t waste any time in bringing Sweet Pea to the attention of the mightiest publishers in NY and the world. John and Jen soon found themselves speaking with the heads of publishing houses, (unheard of!), each one trying to persuade them that their company was the best pick. Everybody wants Sweet Pea.

So yes, I’m super-psyched to share in this astonishing journey, and look forward to continuing on as readers young and old discover the wonder of Sweet Pea & Friends The SheepOver. Makes sense to me. As a child, my favorite toy was a cuddly lamb. Our grandmother took John and me to a toy store–a rare treat–and told us we might each choose a toy. Lambey was my choice and I had her for years, through multiple family moves, until she was so disreputable I reluctantly parted with her as a teenager. I’ve found her again in Sweet Pea,

Because the book is already so perfect, Sweet Pea & Friends The SheepOver is coming soon to a bookstore near you in time for Christmas.

***Follow John Churchman on Facebook.

**** For those of you who’ve wondered what the C in my email addy and other media sites stands for, it’s Churchman!

“Love came down at Christmas.” ~Christina Rossetti


Vintage American Christmas Card with Carolers

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” ~Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas
(***Vintage American Christmas Card above from our family)

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  ~Washington Irving

christmas-cat-siamese-tabby-mix-with-bow“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.” ~Peg Bracken

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!”~Hamilton Wright Mabie

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ~Harlan Miller

(***Kitty Pabel helping to decorate)

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” ~Alexander Smith

This December,
That love weighs more than gold!”
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

candle“A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away.”

“For the spirit of Christmas fulfills the greatest hunger of mankind.”~Loring A. Schuler

“This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone.” ~Taylor Caldwell
~Eva Logue

“At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
~Thomas Tusser

“It is the Christmas time:
And up and down ‘twixt heaven and earth,
In glorious grief and solemn mirth,
The shining angels climb.”

Chritstmas Tree“Great little One! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth.”
~Richard Crashaw

“Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.”~Christina Rossetti
~Dinah Maria Mulock

The Angel From On High

The Christmas Angel

Last December, daughter Elise and I explored the live Nativity and Bethlehem Village at the beautiful gray stone church up the road from our farm, (Weavers Mennonite). Congregants went all out bringing the small Biblical town to life during the time when it was overrun with people coming to register for the census ordered by Caesar Augustus–the reason given in The Gospel of Luke for Mary, great with child, and Joseph, whose family hailed from Bethlehem, having to go there in the first place. Defying Caesar Augustus, or bad King Herod, wasn’t an option, no matter how inconvenient the timing of their trip. Hardly a day passed in Herod’s cruel reign without some unfortunate sentenced to death.

Mary and Joseph journey to BethlehemThose of you familiar with this age-old story will recall there was no room for the beleaguered couple in the inn, or anywhere else, when they finally arrived in Bethlehem. Only the stable. A point brought to our attention by the good folk playing the part of the inn keeper and his wife.

We also met various crafts-persons demonstrating their trade, wood carvers, potters, weavers… Vendors sold, though actually gave away, samples of foods native to that region. While we wandered among the stalls in the tree-lined grounds, taking in the sights, scents, and tastes of the improvised Bethlehem, we heard a voice overhead.

Young woman angel with wingsA woman garbed in flowing white with a glittering halo and prominent wings stood on a swing hung from a branch up in the towering tree.. Well up. We craned our necks to gaze at her.  She held to the ropes on either side of the swing, but seemed at ease.

“Look,” I said, “it’s the angel from on high.”

“So, she is.” Elise was impressed. It’s not every day, in fact, ever, that we’ve seen the angel from on high.

Shepherds at ChristmasAnd lo, she spoke, saying: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Angel statueShe repeated this to every passerby, which must have gotten rather ‘samey’ for her, though cool for us. And I got to thinking, what if, her being an angel and all, she’d had a personal message for each person who passed beneath her swing. Like, ‘Yes, Bobby, ye shall receive that puppy you desire for Christmas,” Or, “Your prayers are answered, Jill, you shall bear the longed for child.” Or, “A Christmas bonus is coming unto you, Peter.”

Stained glass Nativity SceneI suppose I’m turning her into Santa Claus. The Angel from on High had a specific message, one we heard over and over by the time we’d visited Mary and Joseph, the babe in the manger, shepherds, sheep, three Wise Men, the usual gang at a live Nativity. As to the mission of other angels, I’m not sure what they are, and suspect it varies from person to person, but I believe in angels. And in the eternal message of Christmas: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

As always, I urge you to be on the watch for angels. They come in many forms and may be anyone.  They are all around us.

Saying Goodbye To A Faithful Friend and Furbaby

MIA UP CLOSEA funny looking dog–like one of those in Lady and the Tramp–Mia was up for adoption for weeks (maybe longer) before daughter Elise and I came across her. She’d been left tied up in an abandoned house, so was traumatized from abuse, but very sweet. The workers at the animal shelter liked her so much they’d decided to keep her until she found a loving home. Meanwhile, the debate ensued as to what breeds made up her parentage–Welsh Corgifox terrier/ African Basenji. mix, maybe. We were told she was likely mute, but might someday yodel (the Basenji part). Mia wasn’t in the least mute and never yodeled, just needed reassurance, and remained on the nervous side. I could identify. Years later, when I brought home our little pom-poo, Sadie, Mia mothered her (also several kittens) and the two have been extremely close. Although Sadie was the dominant one. Mia never understand she was far bigger, so Sadie bossed her around.

Mia and Percy--Tabby kitty and Corgi MixWhen we got Mia, the shelter guessed she was 3-4 years old, and that was over 12 years ago. This fall, (past year, really) it became increasingly evident she was declining. She still enjoyed ambling about the farm with our lab-mix rescues,, Lance and Luca, but she increasingly snoozed inside on her favorite blanket. Then she began to limp, and that got worse. Before Christmas, we discovered the place on her abdomen we’d hoped was a cyst had morphed into a tumor the size of an orange. Pressure on a nerve caused the worsening limp. She wasn’t gonna get better. Before she grew unbearably debilitated and in pain, we made the decision to let her go. With the help of our kind farm vet, we gently put Mia to sleep in our home today, and didn’t traumatize her by taking her to the animal clinic which she hated.

Colin and baby kitty and SadieSadie was quite upset during the goodbye process, but as Mia grew still, she calmed after I told her ‘Mia nighty night.’ Lance and Luca saw Mia borne to the grave dug in one of my flower beds, and understand she isn’t coming back. Animals have a way of knowing. Small people came this afternoon to ask about Mia. Everyone is sad. She was a good dog. Sadie will really miss her. She’s snuggled on the couch with me. I let her have her favorite blanket, which is also mine.

“Dogs have given us their absolute all.  We are the center of their universe.  We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.”  ~Roger Caras


My favorite pic of Mia, taken years ago. All images are from her younger days.

“Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.”  ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.” ~Gilda Radner

*Image of Sadie and grandbaby taken a few years ago.

If You Love Vintage American Christmas Cards

I do. Here are several more cards and a tag from the stash Mom found in the old family trunk we poured through at Thanksgiving. Each card tells a story and has messages and Christmas greetings penned from friends and family now gone. Some long gone. We even came across my great-grandmother’s dog-eared address book with notes tucked inside and other bits and pieces important to her. Many of these cards were sent to this gracious woman, though not all. She died well before I was born, but through stories I’ve been told and glimpses into her life, I’ve gained a richer understanding of this lovely Virginian who lived in a gentler age, Makes me terribly nostalgic. So hearken back, and Merry Christmas to all.~

Early American Christmas Card--Wintry Scene (2)

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.”
~Christina Rossetti

“I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:  “Why, this is Christmas Day!”  ~David Grayson

Vintage Happy New Year Christmas Card

As you can see, this card is for New Year‘s.~

“It is the Christmas time:
And up and down ‘twixt heaven and earth,
In glorious grief and solemn mirth,
The shining angels climb.”
~Dinah Maria Mulock

“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making.”  ~Leigh Hunt

Vintage Christmas Card wintry scene

We assume this guy is bagging the Christmas goose.~

A tag I particularly like below:

Vintage American Christmas Card Kitty

‘As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.’ ~Eric Sevareid

Holly Tree“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”  ~Charles Dickens

“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.”  ~Harlan Miller

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  ~Alexander Smith

‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year. ~Walter Scott

Christmas ball in tree“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”  ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

“May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!”  ~Author Unknown

“It came without ribbons!  It came without tags!  It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.  Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”  ~Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Little house in the snowy woods, Christmas“At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.”
~Thomas Tusser

“Sing hey!  Sing hey!
For Christmas Day;
Twine mistletoe and holly.
For a friendship glows
In winter snows,
And so let’s all be jolly!”
~Author Unknown

“To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.”  ~E.B. White, “The Distant Music of the Hounds,” The Second Tree from the Corner, 1954

“Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.”  ~Author Unknown

ChristmasTree in Snowy Woods“May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.”
~Author Unknown